Here’s a little known fact about me – I played rugby for years. I wasn’t particularly big, but I was fast so I mainly hung around on the left wing, occasionally outside centre. I’m a big fan of girl’s sport so couldn’t let this book go past.
Before we get to the book, I really want to share the sporty background of author, Emma Larkin, as you’d think it provides the inspiration for the book.
Emily coaches ladies’ football at underage level with her local ladies’ football club and did attempt to play ladies football for a few years with her local “Gaelic4Mothers&Others Team”! She claims she may not have been the greatest football player, but, like me, she could run! And it was an hour each week where she could exercise in a fun environment with a fantastic group of women, who she remains friends with to this day.
But apparently that wasn’t the inspiration!
It was her grandmother, Maureen Hennebry, née Cashman who was on the Cork camogie (this is women’s hurling, a bit like hockey) team which won the All-Ireland Camogie Championship three times in row between 1939 and 1941. She came from a family rich in GAA history, the Cashman’s of Blackrock in Cork, and is even mentioned in the following poem by the famous Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh:
Patrick Kavanagh 1905 – 1967
Bright shone the sunlight on Peggy and Doreen
Wild swung the ash sticks. Be careful astoreen;
Josie is getting into her stride now,
Kathleen is hurling with all her Cork pride now.
A shout from the side-line: Mark your man, Kathleen Cody.
Kathleen pucks it. I tell you that puck was a dotie.
The game is exciting, it is indeed really,
Maureen Cashman is tackling the bold Ide O’Kiely …
“In hindsight, I am in awe of the fact that my grandmother and her teammates played camogie at such a high level at a time in Ireland, where a woman’s role was predominantly to be a wife and homemaker. Which comes to my reason for writing this book, my grandmother was my inspiration to write it, but my reason for writing it was to encourage all young girls to play sports. It is crucial for our wellbeing and development and we need to make it as normal for girls to play sport as it is for boys. The growing popularity of women’s sports in Ireland and further afield is so encouraging and we need to continue to develop this. As the current 20*20 campaign says, “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”. I hope that my book can in some way help to normalise girls playing football and that both boys and girls will enjoy reading about Izzy’s adventures!”
How cool is that?!
Right, on to the book.
Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure
Izzy is a seven-year-old girl who lives in Ireland and loves all sport, especially Gaelic Football.
Izzy plays football with her brothers on a regular basis in their back garden and dreams of playing for her county in the All Ireland Ladies Football Final in Croke Park when she is older.
One day, Izzy puts on her great grandmother’s bracelet, which is made of old All Ireland medals that her great grandmother won a long time ago, and something unexpected and magical happens, which may make Izzy’s Croke Park dream a reality sooner than she expected…………….
I did get a bit confused about the sport. Given the inspiration, I was expecting the book to be about camogie but it’s actually about Gaelic football, which is where the author is involved herself. Plus, it’s called football, but football in Ireland means Gaelic football, with “football” being called soccer.
For the avoidance of further confusion, Gaelic Football is an Irish sport. You can pick up the ball up in it and run with it in your hand, subject to certain rules. You can score goals or points (over the bar). It has similarities to Aussie Rules football which I love watching (never played it though). All 32 counties (ROI and NI combined) have both mens and ladies football teams, and many clubs within them as well.
Back to the book, I absolutely love that you can order it in team strip colours, as well as the “neutral” green.
I do have a slight issue in that it’s a bit tricky to categorise as it’s very short, only 27 pages and heavily (and fabulously, I must say) illustrated, which would make it a picture book, but the written pages are quite text heavy, so it’s more like a short chapter book, but there are no chapters. You see the dilemma? To me, it actually looks and feels like a school reading scheme book, and I’d say it’s a great supported/ joint read for anyone working through the “Biff and Chip” series.
Setting the classification aside, it’s a great story with a strong message and if you know a sporty young girl who’s just moving towards independent reading, I’m sure she’d love it. It beats the terribly dull Biff and Chip hands down, slam dunk! Sorry, that’s basketball.
I personally wish it had featured camogie (the inspiration for the book), but whether it’s camogie or Gaelic football, it will spark a fascinating discussion on different sports as well as gender, meeting the author’s goal to encourage girls into sport.
I think all classrooms would benefit from having it in their book box.
I have one paperback copy (in the neutral green strip) to give away – you can enter here
My name is Emma Larkin, and I am the founder of “Emma Larkin Books” and “Rebel in Kerry Press”. I have recently written and published my first book “Izzy’s Magical Football Adventure”, and I hope to write many more books about Izzy and her adventures in sport. As may be evident from the name of my publishing imprint, I am a “Rebel in Kerry”! This means that I am originally from County Cork in Ireland, which is known as the Rebel County, but I moved to Kerry (another county in Ireland which neighbours Cork) in 2006 and have been happily living in Kerry since then, with my husband and four children. My husband is a Kerry native and we live in North Kerry, near Listowel, where my husband is from, and is an area which is rich is literary history!
I have always enjoyed reading and writing. Writing essays was my favourite part of primary school!
In my spare time, I love to run. I am very involved in my local parkrun in Listowel.
For more info on any of the sports you might find these useful.
20*20 campaign – www.20×20.ie
Sport Ireland – www.sportireland.ie
Ladies Gaelic Football Association – www.ladiesgaelic.ie
Camogie Association – www.camogie.ie
Women in sport – www.womeninsport.org
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